Day 199…Beach Fun

Welcome to day 199 of  365 photos…what better place to have fun in the sun than at the beach! It is HOT and muggy here at the Crystal Coast so what better place to go to have fun than to the beach. I love to watch the kids playing in the water. One little fella… Continue Reading

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I’m callin’ it!

That’s IT, I’M DONE SANDING! WOOOOOOOOO FREAKIN’ HOOOOOOOOO5+ hours today sanding out the last lil’ bits. I went around and dressed the chines & stem plus the transom. Each side got a hit of the Flexicats for good measure. That’s all the sanding on…

Living the Dream up North: Avatar Logs

It is always a treat to check out our owners’ blogs and live vicariously through their cruising adventures. Carol Parker, an avid photographer who owns FPB 64-1 Avatar with her husband Mike, has some truly stunning recent visual additions to their site: They are spending the summer in the wilds of British Columbia, and […]

Day 198…White Ibis

Welcome to day 198 of  365 photos…this White Ibis was way up in the top of a dead tree. Sky was not very pretty but I like the wingspread when it took off. Camera: Nikon D7100 – Lens: Nikon 80-400mm Focal Length: 135mm – Aperture: f/5.0 – Shutter Speed: 1/1250  second – ISO: 100 From… Continue Reading

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July 10 – 27 – 2014 ~Columbus, MS – Bay Springs Lake, MS – Grand Harbor Marina, TN – Joe Wheeler State Park, AL – Guntersville Marina, AL

      Before we continue east, I want to tell you what I neglected to say about our visit to Columbus, MS, which was actually a highpoint for me.  We visited the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Tennessee William’s, first home that is 135 years old.  Did you know that he is said to have been the most important American playwright ever?  Since my freshman year in college, I’ve been a fan of his works. I was a drama major and my first year in college, our drama department performed The Glass Menagerie.  Not a very good photo but this gingerbread Victorian house was his first home and the exterior hues are authentic paint colors used at that time.  He has produced some marvelous works and I was ecstatic at the opportunity of feeling more “connected” with him.
    Long long ago, when we were all just a glimmer in our daddy’s eye, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was launched as part of the Continental Army.  In 1802, Congress established West Point, NY, as our country’s first school of engineering.  West Point was run by the Corps of Engineers and was our only source of engineers for military and civil purposes.

     I had no idea the scope of the Corps until touring a visitors center along the waterway and this I learned.  The Army engineers blazed migratory trails for those westward bound.  They cleared waterways and harbors for commerce.  Now Congress has authorized them to work in the fields of flood control, hydropower production, shore protection and restoration, water supply, disaster assistance, fish and wildlife management and recreation.

     The 234 mile Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway the largest building project in the history of the US Army Corps of Engineers and is a system that forms a chain of 10 lakes, 10 locks and a series of dams from Demopolis, AL, our starting point in the south, to the Tennessee River, in the north, where it twists and winds through beautiful countryside steeped in early American history.   It’s length is more than 5 times longer than the Panama Canal.  Although “talk” about building this waterway began in the late 1700’s and continued through 22 presidencies, it wasn’t completed till the end of 1984, with a total number of man-hours of labor being greater than 25 million.

     An average 8 barge tow can move as much freight as 120 rail cars, 480 tractor-trailer trucks and can move a ton of freight twice as far as a train and 6 times as far as a tractor-trailer truck on the same amount of fuel.

     Bay Springs Lake, one of the 10, has many anchorages and coves from which to choose.  We anchored near the visitor center so we could take a short ride there in the dink to learn more about the waterway and its construction.

Bay Springs Visitor Center, MS

     The Tenn-Tom was many slow miles of absolutely nothing but water and trees and minimal to no phone or internet service. Anchoring out, swimming, kayaking, exploring by dink—-all of that was fun but it doesn’t take long to yearn for civilization.  We merged with Pickwick Lake and the Tennessee River, docking at beautiful Grand Harbor Marina. 

Grand Harbor Marina
Counce, TN

     It is dandy to be in civilization again!  Last night’s view up river was so calming—–

and this morning is another reason to be thankful for still being healthy and on this side of the green grass.

     This is our anchorage at Buck Island, TN River, SM 249, near Active Captain’s designated Little Bear Anchorage.  We cruised up there a bit and it looked like there might be more than little bears present so we anchored in the open with nice swimming and a cooling breeze. Quiet and wonderfully peaceful. 🏊

     I graduated from college in Alabama and I had no idea that the northern part of the state was so magnificent with stone cliffs punctuated with grand and verdant rolling hills.

     So many cruising friends have told us about Joe Wheeler State Park so we made plans to spend some time there.  WOW!!!  We had NO idea that Alabama (or any state for that matter) had state supported parks of this richness and rustic splendor.  There is a lovely campground, pavilions with huge fire places, beach, tennis and basket ball courts, hiking trails, marina, an an impressive and  bucolic lodge with 74 guest rooms, sitting areas, transient slips, and an excellent restaurant. 

        Joe Wheeler State Park lodge, restaurant, and transient slips

One of 3 huge chandeliers in the restaurant

      I saw several huge “walk-in” size stone fireplaces.  The transient slips are right in front of the lodge, restaurant, and a pool actually large enough for a swim workout. 

     Bill said, “Let’s take a little stroll to look around.”  You’d think after all these years I’d have learned that “a little stroll” is at a fast pace and akin to a race walking marathon.  But I took his proposal at face value as I stepped out the door wearing my Chaco flippity flops.  I was inappropriately attired from the ankle down. This photo really doesn’t capture the sharp gasping inhalations caused by this area of the trail that went straight UP without trees, sticks or twigs to hang on to.  Wish I’d taken the picture from the bottom but after making it to the top, there was no way I’d retrace my steps for a photo.

     About half way to the top, I saw a piece of a limb that looked somewhat like a weird animal so under the guise of pausing to admire and photograph, I was really sucking in the atmosphere.

Justification for a rest during one of the famous
Bill Bender Walking Tours

     Currently, we’re in covered slip in Guntersville, AL, where we’ll stay for a month with a long list of “intentions” for getting bright work done, deep cleaning of lockers and hatches, and hopefully, some draperies completed.  Friends from SC, Bob and Jenny, keep their boat here are up for the weekend so we’re enjoying spending time with them and getting a tour of the area which always includes sampling restaurants.  

     Lunch was at cute, unique, and eclectic Cafe 336, one of Bob and Jenny’s favorites.  The food is outstanding.  Everything is fresh, original, and yummy.  We look forward to returning for lunch before our time here is up.

     Lake Guntersville State Park had a Shrimp Fest so the 4 of us went up there yesterday.  The road is as steep and curvy as NC’s mountain roads which really was surprising. This is Alabama, for heaven’s sake!  From the water’s edge, we could see the lodge at the top of the mountain.

It looked interesting from the beach so we drove up there to have a closer look.

Guntersville Lake from the lodge’s observation deck.

     Following our “romp” around the lodge on the mountain top, we had worked up an appetite so it surely must be time to eat—again.  We went to another of their top picks which happens to be #1 on Trip Advisor, out of their 50 restaurants.  We were able to get a table outside–the evening was balmy and their tiny white lights, plants, landscaping accents, and subtle wind chimes added to the pleasure.  The food quality and atmosphere could be a rival for fine dining restaurants in major cities and this is just a tiny Alabama town on the lake.  They were extremely busy but that didn’t slow food preparation nor service.  Bo, the owner, came to our table quite a few times to make sure that all was well…and it was!

The Rock House Eatery
Guntersville, AL

     We’ve had a great time with Jenny and Bob this weekend.  It isn’t often that we have the opportunity to spend time with them–it’s been well over a year–but we pick right up where we left off!  Bob’s still working so really dread when it’s time to hug them goodbye.

     We’ll leave here the end of August so no more blogging till then unless something truly momentous occurs.  I do want to close with something a dear childhood friend shared with me recently from A New Zealand Prayer Book.  It rings so true because it seems everyone (I include myself) is so very busy and the major complaint is that none of us seems to get everything done that we’d hoped to accomplish “today”.  This really spoke to me so I’d like to share it with you.

It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be.”

     As each day is done and we reflect upon those waking hours, it feels appropriate to express gratitude to our heavenly Father for our health and the abilities that He has prescribed for us, allowing us the moment or opportunity to take pleasure in accomplishing our to-do list, despite the possibility that it lacked completion. It’s really tough to give credence to the fact that we are decelerating as we grow more sage and venerable, but when I look around me and sadly see those my age and younger who have obvious limitations in their functionality, I feel as if I should fall to my knees in reverence and thank my God who made me and bestowed upon me excellent health. Despite my 73 years when body parts begin to grow weary of functioning and wear out, I feel even younger than my children’s ages and am so filled with gratitude that, regardless of whether I checked everything off my to-do list today, I delight in what I did achieve and that I was able to do those things totally fit, adept, and pain-free. This is one of our Father’s gifts to us so give thanks and remember that “what has been done has been done and what has not been soon has not been done; let it be.”

Bill and Laura Bender
Kindred Spirit III
Guntersville, AL

A mini Milestone I guess

Sorta hit a milestone today. Keel & bottom panels sanded. The RO sander came off the top of the boat never ever to go back up again!  ;-)I’ve got maybe another day sanding on the sides & bulwarks & corners and then she’ll get cleane…

Alaska 2014 – Departing Sitka for the final time

July 24, 2014

It has been 10 days since we have posted, primarily since we were back in Bellevue for a visit with family, routine medical appointments and checking on the house.

We carried some of our processed fish home as baggage and filled both freezers with 175 pounds of salmon fillets, halibut, prawns and crab.  We may have to buy a third freezer if the remainder of the trip is as successful fishing.

We had great visits with our granddaughter Josie, and her parents, son Sean and daughter-in-law Margaret.  One of the highlights was spending the day watching the West Seattle parade, where Josie was fascinated by the motorcycle drill teams with the flashing red and blue lights. 

Josie at the Hiawatha Park wading pool

Sean and Josie

Getting ready for the West Seattle Parade

Margaret and Josie watching the motorcycles
Our older son, Cameron is well into his new assignment as the store manager of the Helena, Montana Safeway, a great promotion for him.  We hope to visit Cameron in October.

We arrived back in Sitka on July 23, but by the time we had re-provisioned with fresh food it was too late to depart, so we spent a final night in Sitka Harbor.

Heading out of Sitka at 0710 for the last time in 2014, we headed towards Cape Edgecumbe, stopping at Vitskari Rocks to troll for a while.  In just a few minutes we had landed our last King salmon of the 2014 season, filling our licenses and then in another few minutes landed a nice Coho.  Within 30 more minutes we had another fish alongside the boat, but since it was a King, we had to let it go.  It was now only 0930, so we altered our plans and headed away from Cape Edgecumbe and north up Sitka Sound through Hayward Strait into Krestof Sound, then through Neva Strait and on to a Halibut hole on the way to Peril Strait and Sergius Narrows.

The Halibut ate the bait and ignored the hooks, so after a few rockfish were landed we pulled the anchor and transited Sergius Narrows, bucking a 4 knot ebb current for a mile or so and then anchored for the evening in Deep Bay.  Deep Bay was a maze of commercial crab pots, making anchoring a challenge, but we found an open area just behind Grasstop Rock in 50 feet of water.  By the time the anchor was down, the rain had returned as we processed our catch for the day, saving a filet of Coho salmon for dinner.

July 25, 2014

The rain continued all night and was still raining hard when we pulled the anchor at 0640 and continued eastward in Peril Strait, catching a boost from the flood tide.  The wind was initially light, but continued to increase to 27 knots as we exited Peril Strait, now bucking the flood tide and turned south into Chatham Strait.  The wind was blowing in excess of 20 knots, with 3 foot seas as we passed another potential Halibut location, much too rough for safe anchoring in 200 feet of water.

We continued south in increasingly rough seas which were coming out of Frederick Sound, ending up in Takatz Bay, where we still had cell phone coverage.  As we turned into the bay the seas rapidly subsided and the wheelhouse windows were no longer being drenched with salt spray from the wind waves.  The windows were now just drenched with driving rain.  There was one other boat in the inner basin of Takatz Bay when we arrived, anchoring at 1440, but by late afternoon the Krogen 48 “Salty Dawg” had arrived, and later the brand new 131 foot Delta yacht “Onika” also anchored nearby.  We found out from Salty Dawg that our other potential destination, Warm Springs Bay several miles south, was full of anchored boats as well as a full public float.  The weather forecast deteriorated and small craft advisories were now posted for Chatham Strait through Saturday evening.

Megayacht “Onika” from the wheelhouse, in the rain
Spirit has now covered 96.5 nautical miles since departing Sitka yesterday, nearly 10% of the distance back to Anacortes.

The rain continued, often heavy, with visibility often only ¼ mile throughout the night.  The sound of the rain against the hull even drowned out the sound of the waterfalls we were anchored in front of.

July 26, 2014

With the rain and wind continuing, we stayed at anchor in Takatz Bay, where even in the innermost corner the wind and waves were creeping in, gusting to over 21 knots, and driving sheets of rain against us.  We are glad to be at anchor.

The only upside we see is that with the heavy rain we are seeing more and more waterfalls appear, cascading down the hillsides.

July 27, 2014

The rain quit sometime overnight, to be replaced by light fog as we depart Takatz Bay, headed south out of cell phone range for the next several days.  We should arrive in Petersburg by Wednesday.


Envoy is back at Favignana Island in the Egadi Group.
The Egadis are a marine park with all boats banned from some areas and motor boats from others.
Buoys are laid in many sheltered bays and these are in excellent condition costing a reasonable Euro 25 (NZ$39) per night or less for longer periods, during which you can use any of the moorings around the Egadis. Unlike Croatia anchoring is allowed near moorings at no cost. Friendly park staff patrol the islands regularly to collect fees as do Carabinieri to ensure rules are being followed.
The Egadis have no fresh water so this is regularly delivered by tanker.
One morning we awoke to find this tanker had moored just in front of us, and we never heard a thing when it arrived

A Scirocco (strong southerly wind) lasting three days, gave us plenty of time to explore the area around our sheltered anchorage. Like outer Gulf islands home in Auckland the Egadis have winds around 15 to 25 knots much of the time, and here we get a few days of NW-N, then a few of SE to S, so move our position accordingly. Rarely has the wind dropped below 10 knots.

We visited one of the other islands, Isola Lovanzo, and picked up a park mooring in a bay called Cala Freddo. This island’s only village is in the next bay around, Carla Dogna.

Carla Dogna’s quaint harbour

Envoy on mooring in Cala Freddo

We reported earlier that Sicilian wine is great and well-priced – this extra large 1.5 litre bottle of excellent Nero D’Avola red cost only 5 Euros (NZ$7.80)

Back on the main island – Favignana there’s a great anchorage on the southern side where we spent several nights.

There are a few yachts around, mostly Italian and we’ve not seen many cruisers at all except for a couple of French and Germans. During daytime many locals cruise the area in their small powerboats but they’re mostly gone by about 1700 and then all is quiet.

TECHNICAL “Touch wood” for good luck we’ve not had any major issues, only routine things like changing the oil and filters on the Lugger and generator.
Our Lugger engine’s conventional dry exhaust never emits any smoke, and although the exhaust blows directly onto our white-painted mast I only need to clean soot stains off this area about once monthly. We even hang washing out to dry by the exhaust while under way with no risk of stains. One recent morning I started the engine, went on the foredeck to lift the anchor and saw clouds of white smoke coming from the exhaust. My heart missed a beat – what has happened? I checked our diesel handbook and it cites stuck thermostats, dirty air cleaners, or blocked crankcase vent tubes as possible causes. We were clearing a lee shore in a strong wind so proceeded on and the smoke gradually cleared. Later it occurred to me that we’d had a heavy shower of rain during the night and the exhaust cover wasn’t closed, so some rain must have gone down the exhaust and was now showing up as steam. Since then all fine – huge sigh of relief!

Every day I check the engine room bilges and under each engine for fluid leaks, and our bilges are dry so any drop of oil or water shows up. One day I found the paper towel under the Lugger stained with brown dried liquid. It wasn’t oily or smelly and I had no idea what it was – but out of the ordinary occurrences on a boat do prey on my mind. A couple of days later we decided to clean the freezer. Lo and behold we found a large plastic bottle of coke had exploded, and coke had gone through the freezer’s drain hole into the engine bilge – mystery solved. Up to then we would regularly freeze plastic coke bottles with no problems – but no more!

Although our large RHIB’s 25 hp 4-stroke Yamaha was serviced in Lefkas we only test ran it at idle – big mistake eh Frank? Since then we’ve found it runs OK up to 2,300 rpm and above 2,700 rpm but erratically in between. The Trapani shipyard was also the Yamaha dealer so after much persuasion we got them to take a look and test run. They said the carburetor needed a clean so pulled the RHIB out of the water to do that in their workshop. It was such a quick job they said there was no charge, but when we tested it there was no real change, and we ran out of time for them to look again. So far our experience dealing with Italian technicians has not been good (neither was it on our previous visit). They always say “we’re coming in half an hour”, and you wait all day but they just don’t show up!

Our washing machine has developed a slight water leak. I’m able to see the rear of the machine through an inspection hatch and it’s not leaking from loose supply hoses, but possibly from a discharge hose which can only be accessed by pulling the machine out, which is quite a major job, so we’ll leave this until Corfu where we know there are good technical resources. Meanwhile we place a towel around the leak to soak up the water.

The engine room has two 12 volt blowers to extract hot air. One of these is not working and has a wiring problem that I can’t resolve, but we have an electrician friend, Doug Gooch, arriving next month so hopefully he can help me on this.

ENVOY LOG As at 2/7/14, we’d spent 85 days aboard and cruised 757 miles for 136 engine hours.

Day 197…Salty Air Open Market

Welcome to day 197 of  365 photos…the Salty Air Open Market was open today so Mr. B and I took a walk through to see what they had. This market is reminiscent of the markets that we find in Florida. It is a great place for a wide variety of folks to sell their wares.… Continue Reading

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Budapest Misc

Porecka Reka
Anchoring for the night.
   This is the final Budapest email.  Now I can begin to research Belgrade for the emails I’ll send.  In between I’ve have two emails about Novi Sad, Serbia, our stop just before Belgrade.

Margaret Island
Budapest’s Margaret Island was originally known as Rabbits Island.  (Lots of rabbits and hunting of rabbits)  [...]